Friday, August 28, 2009


The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn:

The pundits are busy filing their reports on how President Obama blew it on health care reform.... Had he spent more time reminding voters that reform would provide them with the security they now lack--security from financial ruin and medical catastrophe, the type private insurance too rarely provides--he probably would have been better off.

Yeah -- because that approach worked so well last time, didn't it?

President Clinton called on Congress Wednesday to make health insurance a basic right for all Americans....

"At long last, after decades of false starts, we must make this our most urgent priority: giving every American health security, health care that can never be taken away, health care that is always there," Clinton said before a nationally televised joint session of Congress.

Let's face it -- this was always going to be one of the most difficult fights possible. Every sentence of every possible reform proposal was always going to be a gasoline spill, in an arena in which the opponents' weapon of choice was fire.

To win a decisive victory, Obama needed to have a strategy for dozens of lines of attack -- many of them not even based on the actual contents of proposed legislation -- or he and his team needed to be able to improvise as fast as Michael Jordan in midair switching the ball from one hand to another. Beyond that, Obama needed a base that was fired up for this reform, not just for the defeat of Bush or his own election, in order to counter the power of lobbyist propaganda retransmitted by an army Limbaugh and Murdoch have kept at a fever pitch for a couple of decades.

I'm not sure any politician, past or present, could have achieved the triumph and many Obama supporters seemed to anticipate.

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